At a well-attended event by stakeholders and experts in the maritime sector to commemorate this year’s “Africa Day of Seas and Oceans”, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has disclosed that Africa seas and oceans possess huge economic opportunities that can take the continent to the next level.
Speaking further, Dr. Peterside said decade of Africa’s Seas and Oceans declared by the African Union (AU) from 2015-2025 should be perceived as a shift in perspective that recognizes the fact that Africa oceans and seas were economic infrastructure, necessitating the need for stakeholders in the sector to work together to realize the opportunities embedded in the sector.
“It is a well-known fact that Africa seas and oceans are usually overlooked when it comes to issues of sustainable development in Africa, to the extent that Africa is considered to be sea blind; sea blind because there is low level awareness of the potentials for wealth creation which abounds in the seas and oceans.
“This event therefore tends to show that our eyes are gradually being opened to the reality that our seas and oceans possess huge source of economic resources that can take the continent to the next level”, the DG said.
While describing this year’s theme titled, “Harnessing African Maritime potentials for sustainable development” as very apt, the NIMASA DG noted that it was in line with the overall goals of Africa’s Agenda 2063 which was aimed at ushering in the Africa that everyone desire with the capacity to generate wealth from sustainable governance of Africa’s seas and oceans.
He also assured stakeholders that NIMASA as the maritime regulatory agency had considered it necessary to continue championing the awareness on Africa Integrated Maritime-Strategy and the Blue Economy through the Day of the seas and oceans and other sensitization programmes the agency would still embark upon.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dakuku Peterside also used the opportunity to inform participants that NIMASA was championing the passage of a dedicated anti-piracy law aimed at tackling piracy and all forms of illicit crimes on the nation’s waterways.
Accordingly, he stated that “the desire of the government is to ensure cleaner oceans and to eliminate sea piracy, armed robbery and all forms of illegalities within Nigeria’s maritime space which is in line with the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS)”.
He further observed that Africa Seas and Oceans were its heritage and it must do all it could to protect it; pointing out that NIMASA would continue to work together with all relevant government agencies to ensure that Africa maritime sector was safe, clean and secured in order to continue to attract both local and foreign investors.
Also speaking at the event was Professor Charles Ukeje who delivered a paper titled; “Securing the African Marine Environment for Sustainable Development” noted that harnessing and sustainable use of the oceans and seas were the key to unlocking prosperity for the economy, but that this cannot be done by NIMASA alone, but by effective planning which must cut across public and private sectors of the economy on a long term basis, including a well trained personnel.
Dr. Magnus Chidi Onuoha who also spoke on the theme: “Harnessing Resources from Seas and Oceans for the African Youth Empowerment” identified people, prosperity and the planet as the key to sustainable development of the maritime sector in Africa and said that the marine environment was key to Africa’s survival.
Other speakers at the event led by the Chairman of the session, Mr. Norrsion Quakers, SAN unanimously called for collaborative and concerted efforts among stakeholders in actualizing a virile maritime sector.
Also present were; NIMASA Board Chairman, Rtd. Major General, India Garba, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Mr. Boss Mustapha, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Abbah amongst others.
It may be recalled that the 22nd Ordinary Session of Heads of States and Governments adopted the 2050 AIM Strategy and its Plan of Action, including a roadmap for the incremental implementation of the strategy in line with International Maritime Law.
The Strategy includes a framework for action on, inter alia: fisheries and aquaculture; environmental and biodiversity monitoring; marine tourism; disaster risk management (DRM); handling and shipment of hazardous materials and dangerous goods; maritime governance; flag state and port state control; and illegal activities, including money laundering, piracy, maritime terrorism and human trafficking and smuggling by sea.
The African Day of the Seas and Oceans was instituted by the African Union in 2015. It seeks to draw attention to the strategic importance of proper management of marine resources for the development of the African continent in a sustainable manner.
Photo: L-R: Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chairman of NIMASA Board, Major General India Garba (Rtd), Chairman of the Occasion, Mr. Norrison Quakers, SAN, Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and the Executive Director, Operations, NIMASA, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, FNSE at the African Day of the Seas and Oceans celebration in Lagos.
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